Life Rearranged

Mealtime with the four year old has become quite a challenge. I make dinner, he tells me he doesn’t like what’s for dinner (before he knows what it is) and we have a showdown when he refuses to eat. Tonight it was chicken enchiladas, last night it was slow cooker lasagna. It doesn’t really matter what I make, he has decided he doesn’t want to eat dinner. He stands his ground, I stand mine, and he eventually ends up being sent to his room. After tears and some drama on his side, he ends up back at the table and eats his obligatory three bites. It’s the rule to eat at least three bites of whatever is on the table. This has been going on for days.

I never thought I’d be battling mealtimes with my grandson at this point in my life. My heart wants to throw the dinner out the window and give him a big bowl of ice cream. But my role is no longer just the “Nana”. My role is to teach and mold and “raise them up as they should go.” While I understand my role, I’m not exactly sure how we got here. We certainly didn’t plan to be here. In fact, the “how we got here” is almost irrelevant today.

It would be easy to go into all the reasons why we are not supposed to be raising our grandchildren in this season of our lives. We raised our children, we worked hard to get to this point in our lives, we are too old to be raising preschoolers, too young to be grandparents, it’s not our fault – take your pick, any of these are great reasons why we are not supposed to be here. But somehow we woke up one day and realized there were two little people in our home who greatly depend on us. Let me just say it is next to impossible to look in to their little eyes, turn away, and think of what we want instead.

In the beginning we were angry. We didn’t ask for this, yet here we were. We were already heartbroken by the divorce of our son and his wife. Seeing our son in a position of being unable to care for his children on his own was just the beginning. As is common with these situations, this was not a sudden event. This occurred after years of struggles. We had been around this mountain one too many times. This time, I had a hard realization. It became apparent through my emotions and heartbreak – I was in mourning. I mourned the life I had dreamed for my son and my grandchildren.

The shame and guilt associated with our situation also weighed heavy on my heart. My thoughts often reminded me I must have been a terrible mother to end up here. Others’ opinion of our situation, how we handled it, what we did or didn’t do for our son and how much of this really was our fault, filled my mind.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

Looking back, I am amazed at how God moved in us at that time. The lies of the enemy were great. He skillfully played the “what if” game: what will happen to our grandchildren, what if our son completely abandons them, what if I can’t do this, what if I’m not a good parent to them, what if they have scars from this and why can’t I protect them, what if we never have time alone, what if this is our only chance and we’ve lost it??? We walked in that fear until God revealed the lies and opened our eyes to His Truth.

One morning we went to church to find our grandson’s class was full and he was turned away. My initial reaction was to be upset, but my husband calmed me and thought nothing of taking our then 2 ½ year old into the main auditorium with us. We stood at the back and worshiped while we waited for a seat when my husband tapped my shoulder and pointed down to the floor where my grandson stood. I looked down and there he was, singing his heart out and raising his hands high as he worshiped with us. It brought tears to my eyes as the Lord spoke to me. He assured me that this child will not struggle and he will grow in to a faithful man of God.

That moment changed my heart. It was then we began to lay down the fears and truly trust my Father with this situation. It isn’t always easy, but my heart found peace as I learned to trust God in new ways.

Overcoming the fear was just the beginning for us. There are new challenges every day. While “normal” grandparents get to spoil their grandchildren and send them home; we don’t have that luxury. At one point God showed us that we don’t “have to” discipline our grandchildren, we “get to” discipline them. We do homework, we have bedtime routines and we’re still learning how to get everyone to school on time. One of our biggest challenges is learning to balance our relationship with the two in our home and the two other grandchildren that live with their parents.

We are learning to respond to the looks and comments from others who don’t understand why we are doing this. We get invited to do things by friends who “don’t do kids” so we often have to turn them down. We don’t fit in with the younger couples who have preschoolers and we don’t fit in with many of the older grandparents / empty nesters. We cherish our weekends or evenings we do get alone when they are with their mother, and we cherish our relationship with their mother and her husband. We also cherish our relationship with our son.

Finally, we recognize that we are exactly where we are supposed to be in this season of our lives. It may not be where we thought we would be, but it is where He wants us. We have an amazing opportunity to speak Life in to these little lives. We get to cuddle with them when they wake up in the mornings, and we pray with them at bedtime. I love to watch Papaw teach them about the stars or the ants crawling on the sidewalk and to see their little faces in awe of every word. We have an amazing life with these little ones and we are more than thankful for this time as a family.

This is the day the Lord has made; let us choose to rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24

(Originally published at http://www.mypurposenow.co)

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